The two-megawatt Direct FuelCell® is due
to be installed at the Wabash River clean
coal technology plant this fall.
TERRE HAUTE, IN - The U.S. Department of
Energy and the nation's electric power industry took a
major step today toward the goal of linking a
super-efficient fuel cell to a clean coal technology
In West Terre Haute, Indiana, about 100 government
and industry officials gathered today in a ceremony
signifying the final stages of construction and
equipment installation for the world's first clean
coal-fuel cell demonstration power plant.
FuelCell Energy, Inc., Danbury, Conn., intends to
install their two-megawatt fuel cell system at the
Wabash River Energy, Ltd., coal gasification-combined
cycle power plant. Developed under the Department of
Energy's Fossil Energy program, the molten carbonate
fuel cell system will demonstrate an advanced, highly
efficient, pollution-free electricity production system
when startup testing begins at the end of the year.
The project is expected to produce enough electricity
to power about 2,000 homes.
"The fuel cell is an innovative technology that
generates electricity from coal without combustion,"
said Steve Eschbach, director of Investor Relations and
Communications at FuelCell Energy, "and it does so with
significantly lower emissions than the traditional
combustion-based power plant."
The project uses the Direct FuelCell® technology
developed by FuelCell Energy through a research
partnership that began more than 25 years ago with the
Department's National Energy Technology Laboratory.
FuelCell Energy's Direct FuelCell® uses an
electrochemical reaction between fuel and oxygen from
the air to produce electric power. Since no fuel is
burned, there are none of the pollutants commonly
associated with the combustion of fossil fuels. In fact,
many States have classified fuel cells as the
environmental equivalent of wind and solar energy.
PSI Energy's Wabash River integrated gasification
combined-cycle plant - a very clean system that converts
coal into a synthetic gas - will supply the feed gas for
the fuel cell. The Wabash River plant was supported
through DOE's Clean Coal Technology Demonstration
Most fuel cells entering commercial markets today are
designed to use natural gas or methane gas produced from
municipal waste treatment plants. The fuel cell planned
for the Wabash River plant will be the largest ever to
be fueled by gas made from coal.
"One truly remarkable aspect of this technology is
its ability to produce hydrogen from coal," said Carl
Michael Smith, DOE Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy.
Because the fuel cell operates at high temperatures that
allow fuel reformation to occur, the system can
internally generate hydrogen from fossil fuels, as well
as from renewable sources such as waste-water treatment
"We expect the results gleaned from this
demonstration will be translated into the President's
FutureGen power plant initiative," said Smith.
The FutureGen plant will serve as the test bed
for demonstrating the best coal-based technologies the
world has to offer. The plant will be based on coal
gasification to produce hydrogen for use in turbines,
fuel cells or hybrid combinations of these technologies.
The FutureGen plant will also incorporate
sequestration of carbon dioxide produced from the plant
- a feature not demonstrated in the FuelCell
The mechanical balance-of-plant equipment for the
FuelCell Energy fuel cell - including all pre- and
post-fuel cell processes, such as fuel processing,
water-treatment systems and thermal management - has
been assembled. The electrical balance-of-plant
equipment - which converts direct current into
alternating current for households use - will be
installed by the end of August. When the fuel cell,
composed of two separate modules 13 feet tall and 14
feet wide, is delivered in the fall it will be easily
integrated into the unit.
FuelCell Energy's Direct FuelCell® has generated 12
million kilowatt hours of electricity worldwide during
the last four years, but those units are about 250
kilowatts each in size. The two-megawatt DOE clean coal
project will be the largest fuel cell ever to run on a
coal-derived synthesis gas, and FuelCell Energy's
largest Direct FuelCell® power plant in service.
The Department of Energy is funding half of the
project's $32.3 million cost.